I am not afraid of any of the following:
  • Bats (They eat mosquitoes. They are my friends.)
  • Snakes (I took a 6 foot bullsnake to kindergarten for show and tell)
  • Spiders (See bats)
  • Heights
  • Etc.
I would rather the following not come into my house, but as long as they're outside, I will not react:
  • Silverfish
  • Millipedes
  • Mice
  • Ticks
Unfortunately, the following will cause a major freakout and I MAY allow my child to be bitten by a turtle during said freakout:
  • Dead frogs
It all started innocently enough. A midmorning Sunday hike before the mercury rose too far, so off to the Avoca Prairie Mike, Lambeau, Nora and I went.  We left Gatsby at the cabin as apparently he is some sort of tick delicacy (we pulled more than 30 off him one evening a few weeks ago). 

Lambeau found a turtle crossing the path.
Nora went to check it out. As I am in the process of moving her away from said turtle because it is getting orny and she is getting a little rough, I notice that the trail is literally COATED in the bodies of dead frogs.  COATED.
There are live frogs hopping everywhere merrily. Presumably their dead brethren have been smushed by trucks driving down the trail toward the Wisconsin River or overheated in the recent heatwave.  At this point I literally start choking and hyperventilating at the same time.  And forget that Nora is trying to "pet" an orny turtle.  Her yell brings me back to reality long enough to assist Mike in calming her down and checking out her finger. It really does resemble a tasty little morsel.  Mr. Turtle probably thought it was his lucky day - being hassled by a mutant five-pronged earthworm.  Then I go back into "there are dead frogs everywhere mode." 

Once assured that Nora was still mostly in one piece we continued the hike.  Honestly, had I been barefoot I'm pretty certain I'd have confessed to both the JFK and Lincoln assassinations and admitted that I am, in fact, from another planet.  And whatever else you need from me.  I just. didn't. look. down.

Approximately halfway down the trail a sign indicates that it is closed to motor vehicles to the river, so I am able to hike in relative non-hyperventilating comfort.  Until we head back and I realize that I have walk BACK THROUGH THE FROGS.  And we did. I stared at the trees and kept muttering something to Mike about how brave I was being.

So yep, that's it folks. I'm pretty much a neglectful parent. And terrified of dead amphibians. So I'm an embarrassing neglectful parent. Awesome.

Nora, my mom ("Mimmi"), and I spent a lovely weekend in Madison last weekend.  We poked around the shops on State Street and Hilldale, dined at some lovely restaurants, stayed at a great boutique hotel (Dahlman Campus Inn on Langdon and Francis), and explored the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  We especially enjoyed finding the butterflies hidden amongst the exotic plants in the 'Blooming Butterflies' exhibit.

You probably thought I was done blogging about our camping trip...but you would be wrong.  So, without further ado...nature!

1) Babes in the Woods by Jennifer Alst is an excellent resource for camping (including backpacking), hiking, and boating with young children.  (And by camping I do not mean camping in a trailer.)

2) Bring clothing for ALL potential weather situations you may encounter. Think of it this way - there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing! For midwest summers this means hot days, potentially cool nights, and rain.  In the Rockies this means hot days, cold nights, thunderstorms, rain, and even the chance of snow.  The night of the Fourth of July was so chilly that Nora wore a onesie, her baselayers, fleece pjs, the fleece liner to an old snowsuit (with built in hood and mittens), and her quilted sleep sack. We had a winter jacket on her outside.  When it came to rain, although we could have made do with a raincoat, I found Tuffo Muddy Buddy Overalls were PERFECT because they covered Nora from head to ankle and allowed her to be outside in the rain and the mud without getting cold or wet. 

3) Ensure your little one is comfy at night.  The pad we'd brought for Nora sprung a leak after three nights.  Luckily, my brother headed back for Denver around this time so we used his sleeping pad.  While I don't advocate going out and buying your toddler a $100 pad, find something that is insulated and comfortable.  Many companies make 3/4 length pads which are relatively inexpensive. Trust me, if the baby is sleeping well, you'll all be a lot happier.

4) If you're still nursing, don't wean your baby until your camping trip has concluded.  I held off beginning the weaning process until we returned from the Rockies and it was a lifesaver and made both hiking trips and nights much easier on all of us.  If your little one is weaned and/or you need cows milk, bring powdered milk - it avoids the headaches associated with trying to keep fresh milk from going bad.  Nido is whole milk powder available at Latino grocery stores.  (It also works delightfully well in coffee).  Make sure you remove all sippy cup valves - its hard to get them REALLY clean while camping and then you end up with sour milky valves. Ew. (Sidenote - bottle brushes make for excellent dishwashers).

5) Plan appropriate activities around naptime. We tried to plan either a drive to our next destination or a hike around naptime since Nora was happy to sleep in her pack or in the car.

6) Make sure your first aid kit is stocked for everyone, including your toddler. For us, this meant infant Tylenol, nose spray, Desitin, anti-fungal etc. 

7) Stay organized. While this probably isn't necessary for a short camping trip, I found it really helpful to get the big Rubbermaid totes with DRAWERS for our supplies. One for each of us for clothes, one for food, one for small camping supplies (headlamps etc.), and one for large camping supplies.

8) Choose a baby carrier that fits everyone in your family.  Mike is almost 6'3. I'm not quite 5'2.  We have the Deuter Kid Carrier II which adjusts to fit both of us comfortably.  Spend the extra $20 and get the sun/rain cover. You won't regret it.

9) Don't be afraid of dirt. Nora was covered in dirt, bugs, and leaves within about five minutes of arriving at our first site. She had a blast.  She showered when we did - about every three days, and I wiped her down with baby wipes in between.  We brought no toys with us except for a foam football we found under the seat in the car on our second to last day. We didn't need them.

10) Know when to call it quits.  Determine your breaking point BEFORE you go so there isn't any issue about whether it is time to head home or move to a hotel.  For us, that meant rain for more than 24 hours.  Once the forecast also called for hail, we knew it was time to move to a hotel.